there are rainbows.
So. Many. Rainbows.
there are rainbows.
So. Many. Rainbows.
Ever since I moved to the Philippines, I’ve felt… off. Like someone replaced key parts of my personality with a dull, drab version of how I used to be. For various reasons, I felt it best to tone down my real personality and only let it peek out to a handful of people.
See, I can be loud and passionate and boisterous. I can curse like a sailor and drink like a fish and smoke like a chimney. I am a devoted mother and a philosophical poet and a rebellious wildchild. I am all of these things, but living here, for whatever reason, I decided to be one-sided, one-dimensional.
Maybe I thought that I stood a better chance of people understanding me if I stuck with a simple script. Maybe I was too afraid to rock the boat (especially since my main role since having moved here has been that of “mother”). Whatever the reason, I’ve never been completely, 100% myself – especially at school. In the school setting, I’ve never worn bold makeup, or said the word “fuck”, or called people out on their BS. Sure, I speak up and say my piece once in a while. But when the moment is over, I’m back to being bland.
Well, now things have changed. A morality program at school stirred up a lot of passion that I’d kept dormant within me, and now I feel more alive and more myself than I have since I moved here. Whereas before I would have been careful to adhere to peoples’ wishes of me, now I feel strong enough to accept that authoritative figures may not like what I’m about.
Truth? I’m a bit apprehensive that teachers may take their feelings out on my grades. I don’t know how to deal if this were the case.
But also: I can’t look my kids in the eye – hell, I can’t even look at my own damn reflection – knowing that I didn’t step up when I could have. I can’t feel good about myself knowing that I let an opportunity to educate people slip on by. I can’t stand the idea that I’ve become one of those docile puppets who lays low to avoid confrontation. I just can’t do that. I just can’t be that way.
I’m not trying to be offensive, rude, or disrespectful. I’m just tired of making myself small because other people can’t handle the big, beautiful, real me.
I go on FB and see what all my old friends are up to: performing poetry to sold out shows, writing books that are out of print on Amazon, living it up in the best city in the world…
I can’t help but feel… Like I don’t know when things started to change. Or if things have really changed at all.
Yesterday, a friend reminded me to keep at my passion, and the timing couldn’t have been better. As much as I love my kids, and I’m so appreciative of the opportunities I’m getting here in the Philippines, and I respect so much all the knowledge I’m gaining through nursing school – this life has not yet sunken into the core of me. NYC, writing, performing – that’s what is at my core, and regardless of where I am or what I’m up to, I have to find ways to nurture those sides of me.
Two weeks after the beginning of a new year, and everything is already very different… and yet completely the same. I’m sitting in the bedroom, watching mosquitoes hover in front of my cat-eye frames, and blaming myself for not remembering to close the window screen after Riley opened it to make sure I heard him yell, “Mama! Mama! Mamaaaaa!!”
That was his greeting when I got home from school.
I’d come home early because of a headache and my body’s need to relax, and there he was, happy to see me, positively radiant and beaming in his I-LOVE-my-mommy!-ness. Micah was in the bath, and when he saw me, he lit up like a firecracker and I swore I saw heaven.
And then I remembered that Rob’s mom had passed away from lung cancer and that she’d never see my babies’ smiles, and I wanted to smoke and eat and shop and act out every other vice I have.
It’s been a hard year so far.
I miss Rob’s mom. There are money issues plaguing me. My extended family is showing itself to be more and more bat-shit crazy. Rob and I are having a hard time being Rob and I. And in the midst of all this, I’m tentatively putting one foot in front of the other, making my way towards something better than what I’ve got, and mindful that everything could blow up in my face at any moment.
Not directly, anyway.
It’s a post about how my brother is leaving the Philippines in less than a month; my mom is selling her house in NYC; my parents are separating; Rob has lost his job; the nannies are thinking about quitting; Rob’s mom is dying of cancer; Rob and I have decided to wait seven years to get married; and my family – that is, Rob, the kids, and I – have little to worry about in terms of financial cushion for the future.
It’s about change, and how much there is going on right now.
It’s about how little I know about the future and what it may bring. It’s about how fleeting and futile plans are. It is about motherhood, and being a student, and commitment, and relationships, and romance, and being close to one’s parents. It’s about having lofty dreams and not knowing how to go about chasing them. It’s about realizing how much of a fuck-up you’ve been, and being at peace with the past. It’s about “finding one’s self.” “Coming of age.” “Learning your lessons.” It’s about life, and how hard it is, and how much harder it’s going to get, and how that difficult stuff – that hard stuff – is the very best bit of living. It cements you, keeps you in place, gives you purpose and drive and integrity and character.
This. All of this is what this post is about.
(And also: I’m sick. Don’t know yet how much I should be worrying. Will leave that up to the professionals when I get back to NYC and have insurance to pay for my care.)
Okay. So this post is a little about me.
But mostly: Let’s not focus on that. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that I’ve been writing a lot of fiction, and wanting to learn guitar, and become more fit than I’ve been in a long time. And my kids: My glorious, amazing, beautiful, luminous children. And their father: the man with whom I have the most of everything. And my awesome, supportive, consummately there-for-me family: those by blood and those by choice. Let’s focus on them, and the dramas they are going through and the ways in which I may help them and become a better person in the process.
Do I know if/when I’ll return to the Philippines? Do I know what is next for me? If I’ll get pregnant again, or need expensive medical treatments, or go back to Brooklyn College to finish up my degree, or open a fashion boutique in Laguna (Philippines), or get married in the immediate future?
I have no clue.
But that’s not the important thing. So let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on beauty and family and love and hope and faith and things that are not about me. Let’s focus on you, and how thankful I am that our minds have touched. Let’s focus on the blessings of each moment and be thankful for each passing day.
This weekend, Riley will turn three years old and Micah will turn one year old. Six weeks later, my brother will go to NYC; he may never come back to the Philippines. The boys and I will follow a few weeks after him.
Lots of change happening, indeed.
I’m about 80% done with the legal paperwork necessary for me and the boys to go home: Micah has been recognized as an American citizen and a Filipino citizen and has an American passport; I’ve completed all of my dual citizenship requirements and need only to wait for the official certificate to be processed; the paperwork for Riley’s dual citizenship will be handed in on the day that I sign my dual citizenship certificate, and then we wait 3-5 weeks for his stuff to be done. On another day, many years from now, I’ll spill the beans on all the red tape we’ve had to traverse (miles and miles of it!) and the luck that’s allowed us to get this far on this journey in only six months… (Cue sarcasm alert.)
In the meantime, I’m writing every day. I’m working on one short story collection in particular, and once all of my creativity has been expelled in this direction, I’ll work on other projects I have going on. I need to finish up stuff at school before I go home to NYC, but that will happen when time/energy are permitting; I’m not stressing too much about it.
Rob and I are better than we’ve been in a long time. This, despite the fact that 1) a good friend of his family passed away recently from cancer (she was in her early 30s), and 2) Rob’s mom has been told by doctors that she has less than a year to live. Rob and I were having a hard time navigating between the expected emotional pitfalls pertaining to sickness and death, and the general hang-ups we face on a day-to-day basis. Time difference and long distance are hard enough to contend with, but with the weather here in the Philippines having taken a drastic turn toward cool/cold (strange in the tropics!), the kids have been catching colds and other viruses left and right. I’ve been stressed, trying to keep them safe. I’ve also been stressed dealing with money issues, as the recent developments have forced me to cancel the boys’ huge birthday party in lieu of completing our legal paperwork asap.
I’ve become more centered in the past few days. Exercise and meditation have allowed me to find a semblance of inner peace that I lost a long time ago. I took a detour into consumerism for a while and bought a lot of clothes, which helped me feel better about my body and thus ease into my current state. I also spent more quality time with the kids, on communication issues with Rob, and on writing. All of this has helped a lot, and I’m having an easier time expressing myself and knowing just who I am.
My soul feels more free these days. But also very heavy. Lots of big things to come.
I’ve always needed to be the one with the big mouth, yelling from the rooftops all the big ideas that were spewing out from my brain. I’ve always had to dissect and examine every single aspect of my life. (Maybe because the philosophy student in me really believes my life wouldn’t be worth living otherwise.) I’ve been the thinker, the one who sits and contemplates and tells you what’s going to happen before it happens. I’ve been the one to make plans and draw conclusions and just know things.
But not anymore.
I just don’t feel compelled to share all of that anymore. The plans, the details, the behind the scenes stuff—I think I’ve finally had my fill of TMI. Now, I reserve all of the Important Stuff for good friends and my non-blog writing. I’m just quietly pushing along, doing what I have to do, and enjoying what I’ve got. I don’t feel the need to show off my assets, or make a big deal about how I’m living, or make sure that everyone knows what I know. I have a newfound sense of self-worth and confidence that surpasses the need to talk about myself and pick apart my every decision ad nauseum.
At least, that’s what I’m feeling right now. Ask me again tomorrow.
For now, life is good and hard and exciting, and I am thankful for every single one of my blessings. I am content and happy and absolutely owning Maslow’s hierarchy.